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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 634 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

actually give me that indulgence. But Mr Smyth has asked me about the Eastman matter. It is an incredibly complex issue, one which Mr Stefaniak understands but I am not sure that any of his colleagues do.

What is the suggestion here-that David Eastman, because he is in jail for murdering Mr Winchester, has no rights under the law? Is it that, because Mr Eastman is a murderer, we have abandoned the rule of law in relation to him? Is this the assertion-that David Eastman has no right to pursue the legal avenues available to him, as they are available to every other citizen? What is being suggested in the question?

Mr Corbell: Mr Speaker, the opposition is continually interjecting on the Chief Minister. Mrs Dunne and Mr Smyth, in particular, have consistently ignored your rulings for order, and I would ask you to take the appropriate action.

MR SPEAKER: Chief Minister, it might help if you addressed your comments to the chair. It will certainly help if the members opposite could contain themselves until they get a chance to ask their own questions. Otherwise, they will put me in a position where I might have to use my authority to maintain order in the house, which might deny representation to the people you have been elected to represent.

MR STANHOPE: I will conclude. I am just concerned that, in the throwaway line on the Eastman inquiry-in itself a difficult, complex and vexed issue-I will not be able to do justice to the reasons why the ACT government has pursued the course it has. This is a very important matter, a matter going to the rights of David Eastman to pursue avenues through the courts and according to the rule of law. The rule of law-one of the great strengths of this liberal democracy; one of the great strengths of Australia-for some reason does not apply to some citizens.

David Eastman is thrown into the mix as dispensable. Why would the government pursue a certain position in relation to David Eastman, a position arrived at as a result of the operation of the law, and not provide two judicial inquiries in the ACT and the bushfire?

Mr Smyth: You didn't ask for a judicial inquiry.

MR STANHOPE: We asked for two judicial inquiries on the bushfire but are not prepared to support David Eastman!

Mr Smyth: I rise on a point of order. I would like to apologise for interjecting; it is simply that the minister refuses to answer the question. It wasn't a condemnation of the Eastman inquiry. It was asking why Mr Eastman gets an inquiry and why there isn't a judicial inquiry into the bushfire tragedy. He should answer the question.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, the minister did not refuse to answer the question. The fact that you do not like the answer is not something I have any control over, and it is not something I ought to have any control over. It is up to ministers to respond. If you don't like their answers, you have ways and means to deal with that with the orderly proceedings in this place. But you do not deal with it by way of interjection.

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